Authors: Kersten Hamilton
215 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003
Copyright Â© 2010 by Kersten Hamilton
The text of this book is set in 11.5-point Celestia Antiqua Std.
Book design by Sharismar Rodriguez
All rights reserved.
The lines of poetry on p.95 are taken from "Lines and Squares" from
When We Were Very Youngby
A. A. Milne, copyright 1924 by E.P. Dutton, renewed 1952
by A. A. Milne. Used by permission of Dutton Children's Books, A Division of Penguin Young
Readers Group, A Member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. All rights reserved.
For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book,
write to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company,
215 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003.
Clarion Books is an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Hamilton, K. R. (Kersten R.)
Tyger tyger: a goblin wars book / by Kersten Hamilton,
Summary: Soon after the mysterious and alluring Finn arrives at her family's home,
sixteen-year-old Teagan Wylltson and her disabled brother are drawn into the battle Finn's family
has fought since the thirteenth century, when Fionn MacCumhaill angered the goblin king.
[1. GoblinsâFiction. 2. MagicâFiction. 3. Imaginary creaturesâFiction. 4. People with mental
disabilitiesâFiction. 5. Irish AmericansâFiction. 6. ZoosâFiction. 7. Finn MacCoolâFiction.]
PZ7.H1824Tyg 2010 [Fic]âdc22
Manufactured in the United States of America
For Mark, of course!
I would like to thank Mark Hamilton, Rion Reece, Mona Holten, Meghan Wilson, Tam Owyoung, Linda Jewell, and Melinda Beavers for all they have contributed and endured during the writing of this book. Without their collective knowledge, wisdom, and patience,
would not have been possible.
I am especially grateful to Lynne Polvino and the entire crew at Clarion and HMH, who have done a stellar job of editing, designing, and marketing. They've been incredibly helpful and creative every step of the way.
PLEASE. Teagan Wylltson's fingers curled in American Sign Language as she spoke.
Trade sweater for banana?
She leaned over the fence around the chimp enclosure.
she coaxed. Be
a good girl. Trade.
Cindy bared her fangs in a grimace, ignoring the ripe banana Teagan offered. She draped the pink cashmere over her shoulders and did the ape equivalent of a runway strut all the way to the bamboo along the back wall, turning to glare at Teagan before she disappeared into the greenery.
"Ms. Wylltson doesn't appear to be getting anywhere, Dr. Max," Ms. Hahn, the head of the youth docents, said.
"Tea can handle it." Dr. Max wiped his balding dome with a handkerchief.
"You should ask Cindy to give it back, Max," Ms. Hahn said. "The chimp listens to you."
"She used to." Dr. Max shook his head. "Lately she just throws things every time I come in sight."
"How did she get your sweater, young lady?" Ms. Hahn's eyes narrowed. "That could be dangerous for the animal!"
"I left it on the railing," Teagan said. "Cindy used a stick to fish it into her enclosure."
"And you didn't notice that this was happening, Max?"
"Dr. Max wasn't here."
Ms. Hahn's pencil-thin eyebrows rose. "The girl was here
" She sniffed. "That is against regulations. Youth never work with the animals unsupervised!"
"Teagan's not a youth-docent volunteer," Dr. Max said. "She is an employee."
"A sixteen-year-old employee." Ms. Hahn's voice was growing louder. "Youth-worker rules still apply."
"Teagan is very responsible, and she was never in the cage with Cindy," Dr. Max said calmly. "Really, Darleen, you're not helping here. Cindy is just like a child. She'll pick up the tension in our voices if we argue."
Teagan sneezed. She wished Ms. Hahn would find somewhere else to be. She wished she'd taken her Benadryl during her break. And she wished Cindy would just give the sweater back so she could head to the animal clinic.
The bamboo shook where Cindy had disappeared. Teagan held the banana to her nose and pretended to sniff.
"Smells good." The words came out sounding like
Her nose was so plugged up she couldn't smell the Primate Research House, much less the ripe banana she was peeling.
The bushes at the back of the enclosure shook harder.
"Cindy," Dr. Max coaxed, "come out and talk to Teagan."
Cindy came out of the bushes, the sweater wadded into a ball. She held it over her head like a trophy, then put it down and started signing madly.
girl, bad girl,
" Teagan translated.
Cindy's a good girl,
" Dr. Max said as he signed. "Give Tea's
sweater back. Say sorry.
Teagan met Cindy's icy glare. The chimp didn't look one bit sorry. In fact, she looked just like ... Teagan glanced at Ms. Hahn. It couldn't be. Could it?
Cindy bared her fangs.
Teagan signed, then gave Dr. Max a push.
"Hey," Ms. Hahn said. "What do you think you are doing?"
Cindy screamed and threw the wadded-up sweater at Teagan, who caught it with one hand.
"What ... how did you do that?" Ms. Hahn demanded.
"Cindy wasn't saying that
was a bad girl." Teagan shoved the sweater into her backpack. "She was telling Dr. Max that
was a bad girl."
"Cindy's got a crush on Dr. Max. She wants him to stay away from me." Teagan didn't mean to look directly at Ms. Hahn when she said it. It was just so obvious. "Common primate behavior."
"Perceptive!" Dr. Max said. "Didn't I tell you she was perceptive, Darleen? This girl has a future ahead of her as a vet, or an animal behaviorist. She's going to get lots of scholarship offers out of her work here. 'Common primate behavior.' Of course, of course." He chuckled and turned mildly pink. "I should have known that. I just didn't consider myselfâ"
"It's the lab coat," Teagan said. "Very hot."
Ms. Hahn's glare made Cindy's seem warm and friendly.
"I have to clean the cages in the lab and feed the tiddlywinks," Teagan said before Ms. Hahn could open her mouth. "Gotta run! See you on Saturday."
Teagan took a deep breathâthrough her mouth, since her nose was too stuffyâas soon as she was outside. She couldn't help feeling sad at the zoo. The animals here would never live the way they were meant to live. The primate house was the worst, because the apes were so much like people. Especially Cindy, with her acquired language.
Teagan had learned ASL in middle school so she could teach a preschool signing class at the community center. Community service had seemed like a good idea for her college applications, but Dr. Max had offered her something even better.
He'd been one of the judges of the sophomore science fair. He'd seen her signing to her little brother and offered her a part-time job with his primate research team, socializing with Cindy. Because her science fair project had been on urban wildlife rescue, Dr. Max had agreed to work some clinic time into her schedule as well. If the chimp language program helped convince people that apes should have some basic rights, Teagan was happy to help. But her real love was the clinic. She worked for Dr. Max every Thursday after school, all day Saturday, and half a day on Sunday. As soon as summer vacation started, her position would be full-time, and she'd get to spend four hours a day in the clinic.
She dashed across the zoo grounds, punched the security code into the keypad at the clinic door, and waited for it to hiss open.
"Hey." Agnes, the vet tech, was sitting at the office desk when Teagan came in. "Look at this."
Teagan leaned over to look at the computer screen. It was a cryptozoology site, of course. Agnes's hobby was debunking pseudoscientists who thought they had pictures of everything from Bigfoot to the Loch Ness Monster. The screen showed a flat, mummified creature with what appeared to be a grimacing face. The caption read, "Alien body found in New Mexico?!"
"What is it?" Teagan asked.
"It's a dead sea skate. What it's doing in the middle of the desert I don't know. Somebody must have brought it home from vacation and thrown it out with the trash."
"So you told them?"
"Of course I did. More science, less ignorance."
Teagan left Agnes to her debunking and went to feed her patients in the next room. She put a fresh lettuce leaf into Methuselah's cage, and the tortoise winked a red eye at her. He'd been someone's pet until he wandered into the street. She ran her finger along the mended crack in his shell. Shells didn't heal, of course, but the superglue she'd used to put him back together would probably last his lifetime. Now all he needed was a new homeâone that could keep him out of traffic.
Teagan heated some goat's milk in the microwave, mixed it in a bowl with canned puppy food, then tapped on the nest box behind Dr. Max's desk.
"Tiddlywinks, wake up," she whispered. The mass of prickles and paws in the middle of the nest started moving, sorting itself into five baby hedgehogs. Dr. Max had not been hopeful when they were orphaned at two days old, still so young that their prickles were white. He'd said that African hedgehogs were next to impossible to hand raise, but Teagan hadn't lost even one of the babies. For the first two weeks, she'd carried them with her in a basket night and day, feeding them every two hours. It would have been easier if they hadn't been nocturnal and done their best feeding at night.
Now that they were almost weaned, they didn't have to eat as frequently, so they stayed at the clinic. Dr. Max and his lab techs did most feedings these days, but Teagan still loved taking care of them when she could. Fats waddled toward the food she'd prepared for them, but Arwin the Adventuresome beat him there. Tiny Tiddly, the smallest, sat blinking in the corner while Sonic and Speed Racer pushed in beside Fats.
Teagan filled an eyedropper with goat's milk and picked Tiny Tiddly up carefully. He was her favorite, and not quite as ready as his brothers and sister for solid food. He patted her finger with his plump pink hands while he sucked milk from the eyedropper. When they had all eaten, Teagan cleaned them and took the bowl out of their nest box.
"Don't give Agnes any trouble." She checked the clock. She was going to have to run to catch her bus.
"See you Saturday," Agnes called as Teagan went out the door.
"Saturday," Teagan said.
The early May wind off Lake Michigan was cool enough to make her shiver, even after her mad dash to the bus stop. Teagan took her sweater out of her backpack and held it up. Cindy had been very careful with it, really. She hadn't even snagged the loose knitting.
The bus hissed to a stop, and Teagan pulled the sweater over her head before she jumped up the steps. The driver gave her a sour look as she flashed her student pass, and nodded toward the back.
Two grandmotherly ladies frowned at her. One of them said something to the other in German, and they both shook their heads.
Teagan sneezed as she took the empty seat behind them. The old man sitting by the window blinked at her through thick glasses and tried to press himself into the corner.
Teagan smiled apologetically. "It's just allergies," she said, digging her Benadryl out of the front pouch of her backpack. "Nothing contagious." She swallowed the pills with a swig from her water bottle.
"Tea!" Abby Gagliano got on the bus at Clark and Addison. Abby liked to say she had a modeling job at her cousin's boutique and beauty salon, Smash Pad. Her purple military-style cap pulled sideways, tight black T-shirt, miniskirt, and cargo boots were a walking advertisement for Smash Fashions, and she did spend an hour or two a day posing in the store window. But most of the time she was the assistant pedicurist, specializing in art for the toenails of the rich and eccentric.